Manager Looks Ahead To Blues Test
Manager Micky Mellon is expecting another stern test for Shrewsbury Town as they look to build on Saturday’s impressive performance against Cardiff City.
The Shrews held their Championship opponents to a hard fought 2-2 draw at the weekend and Micky is delighted to have such strong opposition coming to the Greenhous Meadow and testing his new look squad.
“I’m expecting another really tough game but that’s what we wanted in pre-season,” said Micky.
“We want to know what the lads can’t do and what we need to improve on.
“We also want to go and see how good we are with the football. We know that we’re going to have to be good with it because you’re playing against Championship players so in certain areas of the pitch it’ll be interesting to see how we can cause them problems.
“We want to carry on the good work from Saturday. We are in today (Monday) training as if it’s a normal day. We’re not going to prepare for the game as if it’s a league game. They’ll have a tough day today and report for the game tomorrow night and have another tough session against Birmingham.”
With Town’s opening League One opener against former Championship side Millwall just under three weeks away, Micky knows that playing teams of this stature can help prepare them for the big kick-off on August 8.
“It’s vitally important for us. I want us tested. Like I said I want to know what we can’t do and what we’ve got to work on. It’s all going towards that first game of the season. I don’t want any or many surprises come the Millwall game about something that we have to work on.
“That is why we’ve given ourselves a really tough three fixtures in one week but certainly by the end of the three games we would have learnt an awful lot about the group.”
On the same night Birmingham visit Shropshire, a different Birmingham XI will be playing Northampton Town in another pre-season friendly, but Micky believes that will make no difference to the type of side his former team-mate Garry Rowett will field.
“It makes no difference to us because every player that plays for Birmingham is a Championship player,” added Micky.
“It’ll be a Championship team that comes up here to the Greenhous Meadow to play us so we will give them respect because of that but we will be prepared to go out there and give a good account of ourselves and look forward to another good test.
“I’ve played with Gary many years ago, he’s a guy I know very well. I’m really pleased that he’s got the opportunity to get himself into the Championship after his time at Burton Albion.”
James Collins’ 86th minute equaliser on Saturday rescued a draw for Town after Joe Mason and Anthony Pilkington had cancelled out Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro’s early penalty and the town boss was thrilled with how his side competed against a team who just two years ago were in the Premiership.
“We always knew that we were going to be in good company as they’ve got so many very good players so it was about finding out how are lads operated within that company and they did really, really well – fantastically well.
“We came out on top in a lot of areas on the pitch and did themselves a lot of credit. Of course it’s very early in pre-season but it doesn’t matter – you’re playing against Championship players who are at the stage of fitness as ourselves so it was a great opportunity for us to find out a lot about the group. We’ll take the lessons that we learned from that game into the Birmingham game so that’s how this week will work.”
Town’s impressive draw with the Bluebirds on Saturday was watched by over 2000 Salop fans and Micky was delighted to be back home where the fans got to see some of the club’s new acquisitions up close.
“It’s always good to be back at home,” said Micky.
“The pitch was fantastic. We’ve given it some stick in the past so it’s important that we say when it looks like it does and plays like it does that we give the groundsmen massive credit because it was immaculate and amazing.
“All the players were looking forward to playing on it and they played very well so it suited us as we want to get the ball down and play.
“It was great to be back in the stadium. It gives the new players an opportunity to be involved in a game here and get used to the surroundings.
“I personally thought they all did really, really well. It was exciting to see how we’ve grown as a group and we looked very, very strong. The mentality looked excellent to the way that we passed the ball and the way that we tried to get it back which is really important we do that.
"We created a lot of good chances and we worked hard in our 18-yard-box to restrict Cardiff to little opportunities as well so it was a really good workout for us and we learned a lot about the group.”
Akpa Akpro’s goal and all-round impressive display will raise more questions about whether he and fellow out-of-contract star Jermaine Grandison, as well as trialist Sam Patterson, will be offered contracts with the club, something Micky is trying to push through.
“There’s no update at the moment, we’re still in the same place,” added Micky.
“We want to try and get Jean-Louis and Jermaine Grandison over the line and I thought Sam Patterson was very impressive as well when he came on but that’s something that will be ongoing and something that we’ll need to try and do.
“I think they would all be massively important to how well we did this season because I think they’re all terrific players. In an ideal world we’d love to have the three of them in.”
Tomorrow’s game will come too early for the injured Mark Halstead (knee), Dom Smith (ankle) and both James Wesolowski and Nathaniel Knight-Percival (both ACL) but new signing Shaun Whalley should get some be available for selection.
“Shaun Whalley will probably train today so we’re hopeful to get him some match minutes under his belt against Birmingham,” confirmed Micky.
“Young Dom Smith has rolled his ankle and I’m not sure he will be available for tomorrow night but we will see how he goes this week but he’s an important member of the group.
"He’s been brilliant in training and attacked everything we’ve got. He’s obviously someone I speak about a lot and have high hopes for so it will be great if we can get him out there and see him in a first-team environment.
“I think Mark Halstead will train today but it might be too early to play tomorrow night.
“They (Wesolowski and Knight-Percival) will be seeing a specialist in three weeks who will then give them the go ahead to start full training and that will mean taking them away completely from the medical side of things and just let train with the rest of the group.
“They need to get that clearance from the specialist, get a couple of weeks of training under their belts and then they would be available for selection.”